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This paper traces representational strategies employed by "Hoop Dreams," the documentary for which two black teenagers and their families consented to have three white film makers follow them around in their day-to-day life for five years. Storytelling techniques, choice of narrator, and on- vs. off-screen action all reflect film maker bias and filter reality. Of particular interest is the way the film employs juxtapositional editing strategies to make sociological observations about racial relations in current American society. As "Hoop Dreams" is placed against the broader cultural context of popular culture representations of class and race, and how mass audiences receive such works, the other topics of discussion which emerge include: (1) the current high visibility of black role models both positive and negative; (2) the images in "Hoop Dreams" contrasting sharply with the black affluence depicted in other television programming; (3) the ghetto playground as a fantasy melting pot experience for white America; and (4) the limitations of film and the documentary genre in depicting the whole person, his family relationships, and his sociological reality. Still, the paper concludes that the success of "Hoop Dreams" is a testament to good film making, as well as to the fact that American culture is desperate for messages that will bring races together rather then pushing them apart. (AEF/BEW)

Descriptors: Athletes, Audience Response, Basketball, Bias, Black Students, Blacks, Documentaries, Editing, Films, Popular Culture, Racial Relations, Realism, Social Influences, Visual Arts

Autor: Chown, Jeffrey


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